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Airdrie residents have mixed reaction to ever-increasing diversity of Canada

By: Tim W. Callaway

  |  Posted: Thursday, Jan 16, 2014 12:43 pm

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“…in 2011, foreign-born citizens numbered 6.8 million, making up one in five Canadians – the highest proportion the nation has seen in 80 years… also notable was the rise of Canadians professing no religious affiliation: 23.9 per cent, versus 16.5 per cent a decade prior.” – Misty Harris, Postmedia News, Dec 26, 2013

Citing 2013’s National Household Survey (NHS), the article above suggests that “Joe Canada is increasingly likely to be Jose, Youssef or Josipa Canada, with the nation boasting the highest percentage - 20.6 - of foreign-born citizens of the G8 countries.”

You’re likely not surprised given the names you hear among your child’s classmates and what you observe of people at the shopping mall or behind the counter at the local fast-food restaurant. I’m now so ancient I often find myself saying to young couples, “the Canada my children grew up in isn’t the Canada your children are growing up in.”

Assuming many readers are included in that demographic once referred to as WASPs – white, Anglo-Saxon, Protestants – or even in the white, Anglo-Saxon, Catholic category, a pointed question is perhaps appropriate. How do you feel about what’s taking place concerning the ethnic make-up of Canada’s population?

I’m interested by the diversity of opinion I overhear in this community on the matter. Some are ambivalent, members of the “que sera, sera, whatever will be, will be” school-of-thought you might say. Others are generally welcoming of new immigrants, eager to engage new perspectives and benefit from the positive contributions diversity promotes such as expanded culinary options.

But many, I’ve observed, harbour reservations concerning the multiplicity of beliefs, values and lifestyles that Canada’s growing immigrant population brings. Strong emotions soon surface. Indeed, as I teasingly inquired of one naysayer in a recent dialogue: “has it ever occurred to you that those prepared to act or speak un-Christianly to ostensibly defend Christian convictions may be a contributing factor to the decline in religious affiliation among Canadians?” Their response indicated they’d never before heard it put quite that way.

Recent visitors to our congregation mirror the reality of the changes reflected in the data unveiled by the NHS inquiry. I, for one, welcome the novelty of many perspectives I encounter as I interact with such. In my view, I don’t regret being periodically reminded that we North Americans don’t necessarily retain the trump card on wisdom or virtue.

Tim is pastor of Faith Community Church. He can be reached at


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